BACKGROUND: People are in a postprandial state for the majority of the day, postprandial triglyceride (TG) response may be more important in the etiology of atherosclerosis than fasting TGs.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to investigate the associations of fasting TG concentration (TGc) and postprandial TG response after a meal challenge with subclinical atherosclerosis, measured by intima-media thickness (IMT) in a middle-aged population.
METHODS: A total of 5574 participants (57% women) with a mean (standard deviation [SD]) age of 56 (6) years were included in this cross-sectional analysis of baseline measurements of The Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity study. Serum TGc was measured fasting and 30 and 150 minutes after a liquid mixed meal, and the incremental area under the curve (TGiAUC) was calculated. With linear regression analyses, we calculated the differences in IMT with 95% confidence intervals, adjusted for confounding factors, and additionally for TGc or TGiAUC.
RESULTS: Per SD of TGc (0.82 mmol/L), IMT was 8.5 μm (2.1, 14.9) greater after adjustment for TGiAUC and confounding factors. Per SD of TGiAUC (24.0 mmol/L × min), the difference in IMT was -1.7 μm (-8.5, 5.0) after adjustment for fasting TG and confounding factors.
CONCLUSIONS: The association between TG response after a mixed meal and IMT disappeared after adjusting for TGc. The association between fasting TG concentration and IMT persisted after adjustment for postprandial TG response. These findings imply that it is not useful to perform a meal challenge in cardiovascular risk stratification. Our results support use of fasting TGc instead of postprandial TG responses for cardiovascular risk stratification in clinical practice.